Impromptu Autumn Travel Plans

I expected the rest of 2012 to be quiet, my hiking boots and backpack collecting cobwebs in the closet, my soul nourished through photos, Facebook exchanges with far-flung new friends, and my monthly dose of National Geographic as I saved for a friend’s wedding in Thailand next year.

Then last week I checked some airfares to random destinations, simply out of curiosity. Now I possess plane tickets to Portland, Oregon and San Juan, Puerto Rico. When I see airfares less than $400 these days from my out-of-the-way little regional airport, it’s hard to say no!

I’ll be flying home to Portland for a week in October, always a stunning time of year for the Pacific Northwest. I expect rain, of course, but also rainbows of tree colors against the steadfast green of the Douglas firs, a bounty of city festivals and autumn-themed microbrews, and waterfalls flush with rain in the Gorge. Even the Timbers soccer season will still be in full swing, with a match against our Cascadia rivals, the Seattle Sounders. A match-day visit to a pub is definitely in order.

The tail end of hurricane season offers up another travel opportunity – Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico! At first, the idea of visiting the Caribbean in the last waning week of the official hurricane season (June 1 to November 30) worried me. No wonder my flight was so affordable during the busiest travel weekend of the year! But further research (conducted while Hurricane Isaac was forming and hurling itself straight at Puerto Rico as a rain-heavy tropical storm) reminded me that hurricane season isn’t necessarily a bad time to travel, especially at the end of it. HIstorically, the statistics are in my favor when it comes to Puerto Rico, which hasn’t suffered a Category 4 or 5 hurricane since the 1930s and often weathers tropical storms rather well. If the odds roll against me, my travel insurance purchased just for this possibility will cover a need to cancel the trip due to a developing tropical storm. Hurricanes aren’t like the tornadoes and supercell thunderstorms I am used to in the Midwest – NOAA often trumpets warnings about a developing storm days before they make landfall.

I’m also curious to witness how Puerto Rico celebrates Thanksgiving. As a Commonwealth of the United States, I wondered at first, do they even celebrate Thanksgiving? Apparently the answer is yes, with a distinct Puerto Rican twist. I cannot wait to dive in!

So back to one of my favorite phases of travel – the anticipation as I furiously plan away!

About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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